In the News: Jul 19–26

Geographic Variations Found in Cancer Patient End-Of-Life Expenditures

Using data from the Cancer Care Outcomes Research and Surveillance Consortium (CanCORS), a recent Health Affairs study explored factors contributing to health care spending variations at the last 30 days of life for patients with advanced-stage lung or colorectal cancer, based on the patients’ sociodemographic and clinical factors, patients’ and physicians’ beliefs, and the availability of services.

Compared to physicians in lower-spending areas, physicians working in higher-spending areas reported having less knowledge about and feeling less comfortable with treating dying patients. Higher-spending areas were also found to have more physicians but fewer primary care providers and hospices compared to lower-spending areas. Findings from the study suggest that geographic variations within end-of-life spending can be explained by the availability of services as well as physicians’ beliefs.

While palliative care services can benefit patients with serious or life-threatening illnesses, many patients don’t have access to these services outside of the hospital. Sg2 believes that as payment reform evolves, community-based palliative care (CBPC)—a nonhospital, nonhospice palliative care model—will be an increasingly attractive opportunity to offer better care while reducing costs across the continuum. For more information on CBPCs, read the Sg2 FAQ Best Practices in Community-Based Palliative Care.

Leading Biotech Companies Use Precision Medicine to Target Cancer

A recent Investor’s Business Daily article highlights 3 biotech companies aiming to shrink solid tumors by targeting a single genetic mutation in cancer cells. The research is in its infancy (none of the 3 biotech companies currently has sales from approved drugs), but the implications of designing treatment regimens beyond the scope of chemotherapy could revolutionize oncologists’ medical practices and potentially improve patient survival rates.

Recently, providers, researchers and health care executives converged for the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting, where precision medicine was a dominant topic. This year’s theme of “Delivering Discoveries: Expanding the Reach of Precision Medicine” was about self-reflection: recognizing that the path to precision medicine is well under way, acknowledging that real challenges and gaps persist, and identifying a way forward.

Sg2 encourages its members to evaluate and challenge the utility of precision medicine, especially as this care trend continues to gain national attention. To learn more about how precision medicine is redefining care delivery and the action steps that can help prepare for this rapidly changing field, read the Sg2 Expert Insight ASCO 2018: Back to the Future (of Precision Medicine).

Hospital Administrator Survey Finds Inpatient Utilization Continues to Slow

A recent Modern Healthcare article highlights a survey of 50 hospital administrators showing that inpatient utilization continues to slow, with respondents indicating that inpatient utilization increased by only 0.7% in the second quarter of 2018, down from 1% during the same time in 2017.

Nearly two-thirds of the responding hospital executives said they don’t plan to change their capital spending in the next year and expect urological, gynecological, spine and knee procedures to continue to migrate to outpatient settings. The survey’s authors expect inpatient prices will continue to increase to offset rising acuity and weak volume.

While Sg2 expects inpatient growth to flatten and outpatient growth to be 15% over the next decade, demand will vary significantly within service lines, based on changes in demographics, a continued outpatient shift in certain areas, advancing technology and epidemiologic trends. To learn more about future growth opportunities and utilization by service line, read the Sg2 Expert Insight Sg2 2018 Impact of Change® Forecast: Key Growth Trends by Service Line.

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